Heavy rains day after day have raised eastern North Carolina rivers to flood stage and many lagoons to dangerously high levels. What’s more, fields have been kept too wet for spraying lagoon wastewater.
In recent weeks, more than 300 farms have reported problems. Last week, 227 reported lagoons in “high freeboard,” 18 inches or less from overflowing. Of these, seven had 12 inches or less freeboard, which is considered dangerously high.
The state has fined 11 farms for failing to comply with regulations. Fines levied during the past 2 weeks ranged from $638 to $7,826 for infractions falling in one or a combination of three categories:
(1) Failure to report a high freeboard level,
(2) Over-applying wastewater, causing an unpermitted discharge into state waters,
(3) Spraying on fields without proper vegetative cover.
On Friday, the state Division of Water Quality officials said: “Each farm that has a non-compliant freeboard level will be sent a Notice of Violation and may be subject to additional enforcement actions based on further investigation.”
Agency inspectors are flying over lagoons to spot potential problems for further inspection on the ground.